Feeding babies is a huge concern to parents, especially dealing with their newborns. It is important to note that feeding newborns can either be by breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. In this article, we will be looking extensively at the latter, however, breastfeeding is highly encouraged if mothers are free to do so. Bottle-feeding can be of great relief to mothers who may be unable to breastfeed for different reasons. Although if it is not handled properly, it can lead to complications such as colic, diarrhea, and other harmful infections that could affect babies’ health negatively. This is why we would be doing our best to educate parents on the dos and don’ts of bottle-feeding.
Before continuing with this article, we would like to apologize for the long break. It is because we recently welcomed the newest member to our family. During the break, we were busy with the newborn as well as gathering new content. From henceforth, we shall resume our regular epistles. Stay tuned!
Bottle-feeding has gained significant attention recently, which could be traceable to the increased number of women in entrepreneurship, white-/blue-collar jobs, and so on. With this, many mothers do not have sufficient opportunities/time to breastfeed their babies, instead, they choose to express the milk and store it while their spouses/nannies/helpers or family members assist in doing the bottle-feeding. Before going further, let us closely look at the term “bottle-feeding”. When we refer to bottle-feeding, we are talking about all the ways of feeding babies through the bottle. These, of course, include formula and breastmilk. So, we would be looking at how to properly bottle-feed babies to avoid issues or early hospitalization.
|2.0 Choosing the right feeding bottle for your baby|
|3.0 When to introduce bottle feeding|
|4.0 Best bottle-feeding positions to try with your baby|
|5.0 Ways to know that your baby is hungry|
|6.0 Ways to burp your baby after bottle-feeding|
|7.0 What if my baby refuses bottle feeding?|
|8.0 Things to consider|
|9.0 Pros of bottle feeding your baby|
|10.0 Cons of bottle feeding your baby|
2.0 Choosing the right feeding bottle for your baby
Most parents make mistakes of choosing the wrong feeding bottles for their babies, which have led to serious health issues such as stomach gassing or malnutrition as a result of the inability to suck properly. Therefore, to mitigate these challenges, here are a few recommendations:
- For the best feeding experience, choose a bottle with a tender nipple. Make sure the nipple of the bottle is as soft and close to the natural breast nipple as possible.
- Make sure the feeding bottle has an anti-colic nipple. The anti-colic nipple reduces the amount of air babies suck into their stomach while feeding.
- A transparent and easy to clean bottle is the best kind of bottle to use.
3.0 When to introduce bottle-feeding
Many new and old parents are often concerned about the right time to introduce bottle-feeding to their newborns. Parents that are unable to breastfeed for different reasons may adopt bottle-feeding immediately. For breastfeeding mothers who are also interested in bottle-feeding, it is recommended to wait between two to four (2-4) weeks to establish a sufficient milk supply. Also, keep in mind that a longer wait time before introducing a bottle to your baby might end up making your baby struggle to accept it. This is because your baby has become used to direct breastfeeding. Therefore, you should pay keen attention to the wait time.
Out of our experiences, we have directly interfaced with many nursing mothers, and we know that there are so many breastfeeding situations and different experiences surrounding them. One of these cases could be that the mother’s breast milk is not flowing well, especially during the first couple of days. Another reason might be that the milk flow pressure is too much such that if fed directly to the baby, it may result in choking which is not good for the baby. In this case, mothers are advised to express the milk into bottles to reduce the pressure and feed the baby via the bottle or directly from the breast after pumping. Also, for several other reasons such as choice or love for formulated milk, mothers may choose not to feed the baby directly from their breasts. This is where bottle-feeding comes in handy. It could even be started immediately without having to bother about any negative impacts on the baby if done properly.
The need to bottle-feed can even vary from child to child. One of our group members started bottle-feeding her child at two weeks. But for the second baby, she started bottle-feeding after 2 days because her milk supply was insufficient. As a result, she would either use her breast pump or put the baby on her nipples for about 5 to 10 mins before bottle-feeding. The method helped in boosting her milk supply while helping the baby to know the difference between natural and artificial nipples. All this being said, we always suggest that before deciding what to choose for your baby or if you are trying to introduce something new to your baby, it is best to always speak with your baby’s pediatrician or nutritionist.
4.0 Best bottle-feeding positions to try with your baby
Always remember to support the babies’ heads and hold them in a semi-upright position like you would if you were breastfeeding. You can use the feeding positions below if you are feeding your baby with formula or bottled breast milk.
- Lean the bottle: ensure to incline the bottle such that the milk covers the nipple of the bottle to limit the quantity of air that goes into the baby’s stomach. That would save your baby’s stomach from bloating with gas which might cause colic.
- Sit your baby up: you should position your baby in an upright position with his/her head on your arm or chest.
- Use a pillow: another easy method that may be preferable compared to using your arm to support your baby’s head would be using a pillow. Place the baby’s head gently on a pillow to give that elevated support while feeding.
- Lapping: this position allows you and your baby to face one another. It works well either when you are lying your back on the bed or the couch with your legs propping up.
While exploring different bottle-feeding positions, it is important to stress that you should NEVER leave your baby unattended while he/she is eating.
5.0 Ways to know that your baby is hungry
As a rule of thumb, it is good to watch out for signs that show your baby is hungry. Once the sign is spotted, you can easily respond to his/her food needs instead of waiting for him/her to cry continuously. Some of the ways babies communicate their hunger include:
- Sucking their tongues or lips
- A familiar cry
- Opening their mouths
- Smacking of the lips
- Sucking fingers, feet, or your clothes
- Putting their mouths against your breast
- Turning their heads around with mouths open
Note: when babies are fed at the right time, they would be comfortable instead of jerking as a result of a long cry.
6.0 Ways to burp your baby after bottle-feeding
Burping your baby is extremely important. You do not want to overlook burping babies because it could be dangerous. They need to be burped in-between and after feeding to help relieve any gas that they might have swallowed during the process of feeding. The positions best used to burp babies include:
- Place the baby on your lap and ensure that he/she is seated in an upright position. Use one of your hands to support the neck and the other one to rub or gently pat the back.
- Place the baby on your shoulder and ensure his/her is over your shoulder while carefully rubbing or patting his/her back. Interestingly, this is considered a favourite burping position for many mothers.
- Put the baby down on your lab and make sure that the baby’s tummy is against your lab while gently rubbing or patting the back to dislodge intake air.
Remember, you should always cup your hand while patting your baby’s back to calm the baby.
7.0 What if my baby refuses bottle-feeding?
Occasionally, we find that babies that have been exposed to direct breastfeeding methods reject the artificial nipples of the bottle. Most of the time, this is because they are used to the direct feeding method. Reasons for this could be:
- Some babies are already used and prefer the natural nipple to the artificial.
- Some babies only eat from the bottles when their mothers’ are not around. They think that their mothers nipples are tender or softer than the artificial nipples.
- Some babies will refuse to accept feeding from anyone else apart from their mothers because they see their mothers as the only food source.
8.0 Things to consider
In general, introducing the bottle to babies to substitute direct breastfeeding requires a lot of patience and continuous practice to encourage the baby. Here are some other suggestions if you find yourself in any of the above scenarios:
- A good tip would be to reduce the number of times you breastfeed directly. You can also allow someone else to bottle-feed your baby while you leave the room. This would help get the baby to be used to a bottle. Also, try to get an artificial nipple that is soft and tender and as close to a breast nipple as possible.
- If they are still rejecting the bottle, try leaving the room a couple of times when the baby is about to be bottle-fed and observe the reactions.
- If points 1 and 2 fail, then you can request/allow your loved ones or caregivers to gradually join in feeding the baby so they can get used to other people feeding them.
9.0 Pros of bottle-feeding your baby
Below are some advantages of bottle-feeding:
- It allows you to share the responsibility of feeding your baby with other trusted persons, which in turn allows you to get some rest or work effectively if you are a working mum.
- It exposes your baby to different ways of feeding, especially if you are also breastfeeding directly.
- Bottle-feeding helps you to comfortably feed your baby in public, specifically if you are in a place that does not have a nursery.
- If you are bottle-feeding, it allows you to empty your breast milk to a large extent to give your body the chance of producing more milk even when your baby is asleep or not yet ready to feed.
- If you are bottle-feeding, it relieves you of the pains of an engorged breast, especially when the baby is not ready to feed.
- For breastfeeding mothers, expressing your breast milk keeps you away from milk stain
- It helps to keep account of the amount of milk that your baby takes daily
10.0 Cons of bottle-feeding your baby
Inasmuch as bottle-feeding is highly encouraged, especially for busy mothers, there are concerns that might raise some red flags. These include:
- Your baby could easily be exposed to germs if the bottles are not sterilized properly.
- Your baby could easily take in air which might cause colic if you do not use the right feeding bottle.
- When heating the baby’s milk, it could easily be overheated, underheated, or unevenly heated which might affect the baby. Although this can be solved by properly checking the milk before offering it to the baby.
- It can be expensive to get a good bottle with an anti-colic nipple.
Bottle-feeding is a great option for different categories of parents, especially for working mothers and women who do not like breastfeeding in public. Other women do not just want to breastfeed either directly or not at all, thereby leaving their babies under the care of others.
Therefore, no matter the reasons for bottle-feeding, the most important thing is ensuring that your little one is well-fed at every point in time. Unlike the breast that does not need serious cleaning, it is most important that the bottle is thoroughly cleaned to avoid getting bacteria into the baby’s body.